Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


France. About the same time the Saracen conquerors of Africa
poured over the Straits of Gibraltar, brought all Spain under
their rule, and would have entered Central Europe but for the
crushing defeat inflicted on them by Charles Mattel in 732;
thereafter in the following century they became the chief naval
power in the Mediterranean, and invaded Italy. Towards the end
of the Ninth Century, while the Moors were still active in the
south, the Magyars, a Mongolian race remotely akin to the Turks
of a later day, overran Germany, Southern France and Northern
Italy, until finally defeated by the Emperor Henry the Fowler in
933. It was inevitable that culture should languish and decline
in such troubled times. In the parts most exposed to invasion,
indeed, it died out altogether. In Ireland, as we have seen, the
ancient schools almost wholly disappeared; and the schools of
England only escaped the same fate because there the work of
destruction was never so complete, and because Alfred was ready to
undertake the work of restoration as soon as he had forced his terms
on the invaders. Even in more favoured lands men were too much
preoccupied for any but a cloistered few to give thought to books
and study, or to care about education. Under these circumstances
many of the schools came to an untimely end. In the absence of
any widespread interest in their work, their continuance depended
largely on the maintenance of an inside tradition, and in times of
, civil commotion or war that frequently got broken,

In the end Europe emerged safely from the great ordeal. By
the Eleventh Century the Norsemen had been absorbed and
Christianized. The Moors and the Magyars had been pushed
back, and rendered incapable of working serious mischief.
Prosperity speedily returned, and civilized conditions established
themselves more firmly than ever. The Dark Ages were over,
and the Middle Ages proper were ushered in with the promise of
a moral and intellectual awakening, the beginnings of which may
be approximately dated from the millennial year (1,000).

The explanation of this remarkable recovery is to be found in
the essential strength of the civilization built up by the joint
efforts of Church and State from the ruins of the Roman Empire.
Not a little of the credit must be assigned to the constitutional and
educational reforms by which Charles brought a partial unity of
purpose into European life. But the civilization of the Eleventh
Century was very different from that of the Eighth. Out of great